When Sir Alex Ferguson retired as Champions of England at the end of the 2012-2013 season, Manchester United knew that it would be hard for the next manager to match his trophy laden tenure. 6 years later, United are yet to even reasonably put in a challenge for a league title or the Champions League. Jose Mourinho, who was snubbed as Fergie’s replacement in favor of David Moyes, is now managing the team. 3 years in, it’s looking like United were right to reject him in the first place.
David Moyes was given less than one year at Old Trafford. Veteran Dutch coach Van Gaal managed to last two years, bringing back Champions League football in his first year and winning an FA Cup the next year. Mourinho has now lasted longer than both of them; he is currently at his third year as United coach, a job he has always wanted according to the man himself. In his first year, Mourinho did very well, winning the Community Shield, League Cup and Europa League, which sealed Champions League qualification for them. The second season was trophyless but resulted in second place in the Premier League, with a points haul which could have very well won them a title, had it not been for Manchester City’s amazing campaign.
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One thing which fans were not too happy about was the defensive game Mourinho was playing. After having seen a similar style fail with Moyes and LVG, United fans were not keen on seeing one of the best clubs in the World play so negatively, especially given the number of top offensive players at their disposal. Had Mourinho started this season strongly, all of this might have been forgotten. However, United are having one of their worse starts of the season. Negative style and negative results do not make a good mix.
To add salt to injury, Mourinho is picking all kinds of fights publicly with his players, with Paul Pogba being at the top of his list. Phil Jones and Eric Bailly have also been harshly criticized recently, with Mourinho unnecessarily commenting he knew his team would be in trouble against Derby County when he saw the next penalty takers were Jones and Bailly. This is starting to resemble Mourinho’s 2015-2016 downfall at Chelsea, where he was sacked around Christmas with Chelsea close to the relegation zone, after having been champions the previous year.
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Mourinho seems to be lost in the immensity that is Manchester United. He is going down and not even doing so gracefully. At the very least, David Moyes was not picking fights with his own players or the media when things were not going his way at United. Moyes’ focus was always on football. With Mourinho, it’s always about himself. His humongous ego will be his end at Old Trafford. The only thing which could save him now is if he puts the team first and patches up his differences with his squad, in particular with Pogba. The frenchman has been impressive under Conte at Juventus and Deschamps for France. Why then can’t Mourinho get the best out of him?
Watch any United game and it’s difficult to figure out what their blueprint is. Manchester City have now got Guardiola’s Barcelona DNA. Chelsea are disciplined and rely on Eden Hazard to make the differnce. Liverpool have Klopp’s gegen-press and their front three. What is Mourinho’s plan? Which player does he rely on to win games?
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The club are getting a bad reputation from the ongoing drama and most United fans will now hope Ed Woodward swings the axe before it’s too late for United to salvage anything this season. Zinedine Zidane and ex-United player Laurent Blanc are currently free of any coaching engagements. Should United want to promote from within, Kieran McKenna is a very promising young coach and would have Michael Carrick as assistant, a man who commands the respect of the dressing room. Even Antonio Conte might be welcome at Old Trafford. There are certainly options on the table for Woodward.
With the current negative style of football, bad results and no shred of decency towards his own players, one could say Mourinho is showing Manchester United was right in snubbing him as Sir Alex Ferguson’s direct replacement.
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